Every year it seems that we say what a busy year it has been for us at Alabama Chanin, and every year we mean it. We seem to keep growing as a company and as people and making opportunities that expand our horizons. Look back at the 2018 happenings for The School of Making, Bldg. 14, and The Factory Store and Café and look below for Alabama Chanin.
Our Collections evolved throughout the year. We introduced a new color, Twilight, to our repertoire and continued the Core Club. For the spring, we introduced new spring dresses, and experimented with one-of-a-kind graffiti shirts during the summer. We also introduced Leisure items that expanded our already comfortable garments in a new way, with updated options for the holidays. Our design team reset the style and aesthetic of the core garments for our Fall Collection, which allowed our artisans to shine, using some of the most elaborate embroideries that Alabama Chanin has ever created. We are proud of this innovation and the results of our hardworking designers and craftspeople.
We always love joining forces with other creative minds, and this year allowed us several new collaborations. Swans Island yarns played a big role in the embroideries of our latest Collection and accessories and we continued to work with Little River Sock Mill on our popular organic cotton socks that are made in Alabama. Our longtime relationship with Heath Ceramics expanded as we created a new line of jewelry that they produced. We also continued our collaboration with Patagonia, which sold out in record time this year. (Look for more pieces in the spring.) Most recently, our designers worked with the team at Burt’s Bees Baby on a zero-waste collection of children’s garments.
Natalie spent June of this year in a residency at the Hambidge Center in north Georgia. She taught two workshops during that time, and was able to surround herself with a bevy of creative people that provided much-needed relaxation and inspiration. Her work, in conjunction with artist Rachel Garceau, resulted in an exhibit, Process in Works, which explores the purposeful setting of intentions, ways to approach the world with curiosity, the meaning of value, and it creates cumulative beauty with small, everyday actions and objects.
Also, our team implemented Kaizen manufacturing methods, which augment zero-waste and lean method manufacturing. We started in the stenciling department, streamlining the process and building efficiency. From there, we expanded to our other departments—ensuring that we are working and making as responsibly as possible and moving ever-closer to our goal of being completely zero waste. We also finished the year with a big internal move across our departments which has helped us to consolidate all of the production departments together in the same space.
As a company, we have dedicated ourselves to a major initiative, Project Threadways, which is intended to study and explore the history of the textile industry in our home, The Shoals community, and in the American South. As our mission states, our goal is to accurately and respectfully retell the story of textiles—from farm to finished product—and the way the act of making textiles shaped the lives and communities and the individuals of those communities. This is undertaken in partnership with the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area and the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture. Look for more information as the project continues and an unveiling of our work happens in 2019.
Looking back at the year, it’s breathtaking to believe all that’s been accomplished. But, we are proud of our work and our products. We hope you are, too.